Pastor explains why the pulpit must address public policy issues

Crusader knight prepares for battle
Crusader knight prepares for battle

My friend Scott pointed out this brave and necessary article from pastor Michael Sherrard, who is currently studying for his PhD in New Testament.

Pastor Sherrard writes:

[…][P]astors are… watchmen. And when the enemy is before us, the watchmen better not have his head down wiping the eggnog off his ugly sweater as the walls are being scaled.

Rather than be caught defenseless, pastors must equip their people to engage a culture that is becoming increasingly hostile toward Christianity. And so, the pulpit must be political. Yes, I know that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. Let’s get that out of the way. I already hear your objection: “We should care more about salvation than society.” Sure, I agree. It is better to lose the world than your soul. But if you think that society can go to hell as long as people don’t, you’ve fallen for an old trick and you’ve misunderstood the nature of the gospel.

A politically silent pulpit is one that is catering to the secularist’s agenda: “Keep your religious beliefs private. They are not wanted in society. They are no good to us.” And for some reason, we’ve bought into the propaganda of those that want to fashion a society after their own values. Somehow they have convinced us that the only good beliefs for society are the beliefs of atheists. But beliefs that are true are true for all and are good for all. It does not matter where they come from. And if the Christian message contains truth, the application of that truth is far reaching. It does not end at the capital steps.

Christianity is an all-encompassing worldview. Meaning, it is a set of true beliefs that affect all of life. The gospel itself has implications that go beyond ones eternal destination. We see this truth in Paul’s ethics. Pauline ethics might be summed up this way: because Christ humbled himself and died on a cross, so should you be humble and willfully offer up your life for the good of others (Phil 2:1-11). Our faith manifests itself in ways that benefit others, if it is a real faith. You must repress your hope in God to keep it private. I doubt you disagree with this.

So why are politics off limits? Why is it right for us to sit back and allow harmful policies be legislated? Why shouldn’t we expose candidates that seek to preserve the right to kill babies? Why do we think we have to let atheists run our country? Are Christian teachings not good? Do they not promote human flourishing? Why do we think a Christian influence equals a theocracy? How have we become so simple minded about our civil responsibility? Pastors we have failed our people. If it is not our job to instruct the people of God on these things, whose job is it?

When politics are ignored in the pulpit the message to the world and the church is clear: Christianity is irrelevant. It tells the world that what we care about is our little club, and it tells those in the club not to worry about what goes on outside.

Yes, yes, yes!!!!! This is exactly what my main complaint about pastors is – that they are so contain to discuss castles in the sky and angels dancing on the head of a pin. They want to chase Christian theology into some far-off area where it has no connection with anything real. They want to make our happy feelings everything, and leave us with nothing hard to do for God. But being a partner means doing work that achieves goals, and politics is surely one of the areas where we can show God that we are with him, and that we love him.

Now, the pastor got a lot of flak from nitwits for that post, and so he wrote them a response, with the title “No, your’e right. We should let the atheists run the country”.

Here’s the best part:

Oh and you’re right, who cares who holds office. The Bible doesn’t say anything about voting and our role in democracy. (You’ll be happy to know I’ve also stopped teaching my kids math because Jesus didn’t say anything about that either.) Who cares if there are candidates that would exclude us from the first amendment. Religious freedom is overrated. I mean look how the church is growing in parts of the world where Christianity is illegal. We could benefit from a dose of persecution. You know, I think I’ll pray for it. Tonight I will huddle my family and pray that we will soon find ourselves in a country where I could lose my head for my faith. That sounds biblical.

Religious liberty is my most important concern. I would be willing to flee my country in order to get it back.

I think it’s worth it to read both his posts in full. Why aren’t more pastors like that? Why all this focus on feeling good and being liked, and doing whatever we “feel led” to do? How about we do what is necessary, whether it makes us feel good or not?

7 thoughts on “Pastor explains why the pulpit must address public policy issues”

  1. This one is going far and wide – thanks, WK! Frankly, I think he was too nice regarding the pulpit – I would go so far as to say that the pulpit is complicit with abortion, in particular, due to its silence. It’s time to call out the pastors and priests and see if they are wolves or sheep.

    1. I have such a good post to write about pro-life sidewalk counselors. I’m in the middle of a big tech project right now – writing my first cloud computing app, and it’s actually working!!! Got it working today. But soon cool post about pro-life sidewalk counselors.

      1. Thanks – I am looking forward to that! I sent your post to everyone on my list – RAVE reviews from all, mostly sidewalk counselors but also just strong Christians. I asked them if we REALLY care enough about our pastors and priests – given the harsher judgment they will face – to call them out on not preaching abortion, because I believe they will be asked that question by God. “What did you do for My little ones?”

        Not saying they have to be on the sidewalk or that any Christian has to be out there necessarily – not everyone is called to be out there, and it IS a calling for sure. But, all Christians need to be talking abortion, as uncomfortable as it is, because this is OUR Holocaust. IMO, this is why God planted us in this time and place – to, as a minimum, speak out on this. It is so much easier for us than it was for Bonhoeffer or Niemoller, maybe even for Wilberforce, and definitely for Clarkson, who received many death threats when doing his undercover work on the slave trade.

        “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  2. Why would we let the world say that anything political is off-limits for the church and then let the world define what is considered political? God is sovereign over everything!

  3. WK –
    My issues with this is the following and they are more a warning than a no.

    1) I don’t think that this has been the pattern historically. So you go through the sermons of pastors from yestercentury like Wesley or Whitefield and I will wager that you will find no comments in there about the Parliament or King So and So. At least I have not seen it. And these men lived during some dark times speaking in terms of religious liberty.

    Seeing that this has been the case, it should at least cause us to pause for a second and think about whether we should say something politically.

    2) A lot of people unfortunately want the pastor to do their thinking for them. If the pastor says “Vote for Joe” then Joe it is. If the pastor says vote for “Jane” then Jane it is. After all the pastor is a man of God and he must have done his homework and based his thinking on the Bible. “He’s saved me the trouble of doing all that spadework and he is truly a holy man, so Jane it is. No question about it. The pastor said so.”

    ~ I suppose preaching on Politics can be done, but It has to be done artfully.

    1. Yes, I agree with what you are saying here – no need for pointing fingers at party or leadership from the pulpit. I would just add that a pastor need not mention Obama when he preaches “It is impossible to simultaneously be in favor of abortion ‘rights’ and be a Christian.” Then, I would go through all of the secular and Biblical reasons in support of such a statement, which might be considered provocative today, but certainly would not have been over 95% of Church history. That should be enough to cause the 50% of self-professing “christians” who vote in favor of abortion “rights” to double check their salvation. Of course, the reason this is NOT preached is because local church size would be halved in one sermon, or less.

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